Big cities for not publishing children´s photos linked to accidents

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The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa on Friday urged everyone including journalists to not publish photographs of children related to accident.

The cities in a statement pointing out a photo published by a leading Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on the bridge collapse in Tapiola said that all adults, including bystanders and members of the media, are responsible for protecting children and young people from publicity in situations involving accidents and other similar circumstances.

“Publishing pictures of injured children and young people is particularly reprehensible,” said the statement jointly issued by Johanna Pajakoski, Director of Communications, City of Espoo, Liisa Kivelä, Chief Communications Officer, City of Helsinki and Kaisu Tolvanen, Head of Communications (acting), City of Vantaa.

“As an example, while reporting on the bridge accident in Tapiola on 11 May 2023, Helsingin Sanomat published a photo where some of the young victims were visible, except for their faces. The picture was later cropped, but the victims were still visible,” said the statement.

Cropping the faces out of a photo is not a sufficient protection measure, said the statement, adding that children and young people attending the same school or living in the same neighbourhood can easily recognise each other by their clothes.

Guardians and other people close to the children can also recognise them by their clothes. There is also a significant risk that photos of accidents will remain circulating online forever, even if the photos were further cropped or removed later.

“When photos of accidents are published very quickly, it is possible that information on the incident has not yet reached the close relatives of the victims. Seeing your injured child or sibling in a news photo can be very traumatic,” the statement added.

Authorities must also be allowed to work undisturbed. After the bridge accident in Tapiola, rescue services in the Uusimaa region issued a petition asking the public not to photograph accident victims or disturb rescue workers. The authorities have often reminded the public of this matter before, said the statement.

“All those involved in accidents are in shock – whether they were injured or not. It is therefore also morally questionable to ask the public to send photos. However, if photos are sent to the media, they should only be published with careful consideration,” said the statement.

“Journalistic guidelines also take a stand on the protection of privacy. Paragraphs 28 and 30 of the guidelines state that the media must use particular discretion when dealing with matters concerning minors and when reporting on accidents or victims of accidents.,” said the statement.

  •  Children
  •  Photo


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